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School success a family affair

When 18-year-old James was announced as the winner of two academic prizes at our recent annual general meeting he was in familiar territory.
James shaking hands with NextSense President David Dinte. James is wearing a formal blazer and tie with white shirt and smiling
  • Hearing

When 18-year-old James was announced as the winner of two academic prizes at our recent annual general meeting he was in familiar territory. Both James and his brother Martin have hearing loss and both won the Garfield & Norma Barwick and Clearasound prizes for their performance in the International Baccalaureate two years apart.

The awards, made generously each year by the Barwick family and ClearaSound, are presented to a student with hearing loss who works with experts in our School Support Service team, and who achieves academic excellence in year 12.

James and Martin both received support from NextSense during their school years to ensure there were no barriers to learning in their mainstream classroom environment. James’ Special Education Consultant, Halina, who has now retired, worked with his teachers at Newington College to ensure they knew how to support him best.

James has mild to moderate hearing loss and wears hearing aids. He can sometimes find it difficult to retain information when spoken to, so Halina worked with him on memory recall activities and helped him develop ways to pick up words more effectively. Their sessions involved conversational practice and activities.

If I had questions or needed anything, I knew I could ask. It was very chill and enjoyable.

— James

Halina also helped support his request for exam provisions including separate supervision and extra time to complete his exams where there was a listening component.

School and family have both played an important role in helping both brothers to flourish. ‘We both went to a school that had great resources to allow all students to thrive,’ James says.

We had a good support system for our hearing loss. This gave us opportunities to do well.

— James

'Our family also had high but reasonable expectations that put pressure on us, but a healthy amount that pushed us to do our best.’

After receiving an IB score of 40.75 (97.50 ATAR equivalent) James is now studying Law and International Relations at ANU in Canberra alongside his brother Martin.

‘With the world becoming more interconnected, studying International Relations will help me understand more of what is happening around the globe’, he says, while Law will ‘provide a good range of career options’.

Now that school is in his rearview mirror, James reflects on the experience and what got him through the hard work of preparing for his International Baccalaureate. He has these tips for students in their final year of high school: ‘Just do your best and take the appropriate steps to manage your stress. I found that having a good work-life balance boosted my mood, which increased my motivation and improved my memory.

‘You don’t have to stress that you aren’t studying enough; sometimes less is more. But obviously you cannot skip putting the hard work in if you want good results.’

NextSense supports children in the classroom.

Find out about our School Support Service.

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